Liberty Center - Designed for Millennials
If you're in-tune with emerging retail trends or live near the Cincinnati-Dayton area, chances are you have heard of the mecca that is Liberty Center. On the off-chance you've given up on shopping in stores and are bewitched by the convenience of online shopping, Liberty Center is a $350 million development between Dayton and Cincinnati that is setting a high, shiny new bar for retail and mixed use centers. I now have to acknowledge and excuse my bias for the project, since M+A is a part of the development’s realization, but I would be just as excited for this development if I didn’t work for M+A, I assure you.
It’s an interesting thing, being a Millennial and reading endless articles about Millennials. I feel like I’m in a constant state of unintentional self-reflection. What makes me loyal? Do I prefer experiences over material things? Would I die one day without my iphone? Do I believe in climbing the ladder or googling where the closest elevator is? I’m sure you’ve read the articles, if not, take a moment to stay calm and click above.
Millennials are large and in charge and they aren’t following any patterns of past generations - which is probably why it’s so exciting and insightful for people to write about. Although we all live in a world where information, entertainment, communication and commerce are available with a mere swipe of a screen, Millennials are the ones creating the apps and technology connecting us to that world. The Millennial generation is one that is driven and activated by experience and this notion extends from the way we live, the way we work and into the way we buy.
Yahoo apparently agrees. "Millennials... are not your parents’ generation; they do things differently and in a big way....Nowhere is this influence being felt more than in the retail industry: recent research reveals that Millennials are changing the rules of brand marketing, redefining purchase habits, and revolutionizing the shopping experience as we know it."
Now, I am no anthropologist, nor an expert on retail trends, however, I do know how I buy and how my friends buy. If we’re not shopping online (73% make purchases online), we pick shopping centers on experience and convenience, stores on reliably, and brands on recommendations and quality.
From my professional Millennial opinion and first-hand knowledge of the project, Liberty Center isn’t just another shopping center. The development’s 88 acres and 1.2 million square feet are blanketed with a diverse livable fabric and embedded with walkability. Instead of just the live, work, play components, it folds together live, work, play with celebrate, dine, worship, grocery shop, exercise, and relax (among many more). This combination is clearly an intentional response towards the Millennial population and our tendencies to view shopping as entertainment, not just commerce.
“If it’s not fun, not meaningful, and not memorable, there really is no reason for consumers to shop there.” (Forbes.com)
Liberty Center may be the first, but will undoubtedly not be the last development to create an environment that fosters diverse and changing experiences through the mixing of uses. By grouping retail with public spaces, event venues, and rooftop gardens, the project engages well beyond the consumer to residents, visitors and employees. Whatever someone's reason is for being there, the appeal for them to stay, explore and return is driven by their unique experience.
"…this generation not only highly values experiences, but they are increasingly spending time and money on them: from concerts and social events to athletic pursuits, to cultural experiences and events of all kinds. For this group, happiness isn’t as focused on possessions or career status. Living a meaningful, happy life is about creating, sharing and capturing memories earned through experiences that span the spectrum of life’s opportunities." (Eventbright)
Also, as a resident of Cincinnati and past resident of Columbus, I can't rightfully end this blog without mentioning two of the most delicious restaurant additions coming to Liberty Center: the Columbus-based restaurants Northstar Cafe and BIBIBOP. You reading this, should be VERY excited.